High School Classmates Chip in to Support Family Members of Sister Killed in Hwy 101 Crash

UPDATED: A former classmate created an online donating page, so far raising more than $11,000.


A former high school classmate of one of two sisters who died in a crash in Palo Alto on Black Friday has created an online donation page to raise money to support the San Bruno family.

As of Friday, donations were at nearly $11,000. The new goal: $25,000.

The sisters were both killed after an SUV driven by their father, Arvind Tandel, 48, crashed into a California Highway Patrol vehicle that was pulled over on the right-hand side of U.S. Highway 101 near Embarcadero Road just before 7 a.m. on Nov. 23, according to the CHP.

The sisters were identified by the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office as Nisha Tandel, 24, and Sheetal Tandel, 20.

Notre Dame High School Belmont administrative assistant Mirna Yao said a vigil mass was held there Monday for the two former students, who graduated in 2006 and 2010.

A student from the class of 2010 has been leading an online effort to support surviving family members, Yao said.

Sheetal's friend and former Notre Dame High classmate Raquel Ferrari created an online GoFundMe.com site the day of the accident and as of Friday afternoon had raised more than $10,000 in donations from 176 people.

"Our class collected $100 to get an engraved water globe to give to the family from our class personally," Ferrari told Patch in an email. 

"The money raised on the site is going to the family directly. Our class is also working with the school for a memorial plaque to be placed in the Father Downey Garden in honor of Sheetal and Nisha."

The Rev. Michael John Downey, 48, an Episcopal priest and the former head of the English department at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, died of cancer in 1995.

Site donations aim to financially support the family, with some members who were in the car during the crash still at local hospitals, some in critical condition.

According to Ferrari, Nisha was to be married in India in January and the family had been shopping for gifts in Gilroy to take with them to India for the wedding before the crash happened.

Nisha, the oldest of four sisters in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene after she was ejected from the gold Lexus SUV, while Sheetal, who was also ejected, was pronounced dead at Stanford Hospital that night around 8:30 p.m., according to authorities.

 CHP Officer Amelia Jack said.

Yogita, who suffered major injuries, is in critical condition at Stanford Hospital. Arvind, Payal Tandel, 22, and Ayushi, 12, suffered moderate to minor injuries and are hospitalized at Valley Medical Center.

According to the CHP, before the crash a CHP vehicle had pulled over to deal with a stalled pickup truck on the side of the road.

The Tandels' SUV swerved into the shoulder and hit the patrol vehicle. The SUV then flipped multiple times before coming to a rest near the Embarcadero Road off-ramp, according to the CHP.

Asking for support from classmates who knew Sheetal, Ferrari wrote on the site that Sheetal "was such a brightening presence in our high school experience, always beaming with excitement and laughter."

In an update on the page posted Tuesday, Ferrari wrote, "Nothing will take away the pain from the loss, but we hope to keep Sheetal and Nisha's memories alive and support the Tandel family through this extremely painful time."

The donation page can be found at http://www.gofundme.com/sheetal-nisha-memorial.

--Bay City News contributed to this report.

Related Topics: Car Crash, Nisha Tandel, Notre Dame High School, Sheetal Tandel, and highway 101


Stacie Chan November 29, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Absolutely tragic. My heart goes out to this family and I hope they can find peace during this horrible ordeal.
Rick Eymer December 01, 2012 at 12:47 AM
The simplicity of a classmate stepping forward to perform such an act of kindness in the wake of tragedy speaks to the power of love. Raquel is an inspiration to everyone.


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